Hand tools and fabrication machines
This is our Provocation 1: Smoking Wall. We were tasked to explore a public space near UC Berkeley campus. The site we picked was near the entrance to the school - a nondescript wall where many smokers would frequent during their day. We wanted to also explore the fact that smokers are now pushed to the edges of campus because of new school rules in which there is no smoking on campus. We also noticed that many non smokers do not interact with smokers and also, even if smokers are congregated in one area, they do not really talk or interact with each other. We decided to change the environment of the isolated smoker with a thought provoking/funny question on the site that would hopefully change the dynamic of the space. We installed a clear box with two slots to vote for a funny picture on the wall. From our observations detailed below, we found that our box provoked a great deal of laughter, sparked a few conversations, and even an Instagram post! Overall, we found that we transformed a hectic place where no one really talked to each other to a site where people could laugh with each other and stop, even for a few seconds, before rushing off to where they were going.
The site we picked as the wall next to the bus stop on Bancroft and Telegraph. We picked this spot because even though this wall is next to a high foot traffic area, it is strangely empty most of the time, with only smokers stopping to lean or sit against the wall while they smoked for support.
The site is approximately a 15 minute walk from Jacobs across the campus and is next to a bus stop, an awning with benches, and a lot of food places across the street. Some sites that we can see in the area include a lot students, tourists, and locals, busses and other vehicles, ironically a no smoking sign, a lot of cigarette butts on the ground, and construction. Some things that we can hear include automobiles rushing past, the walk signal when people cross the street, people's chatter and conversations, sometimes there would be protests or sermons by the gate next to the wall, and also construction banging. Some smells we encountered include pollution, smoke (from the smokers that frequent the wall), and food smells wafting from across the street.
We focused on this spot because we noticed the sparse interaction in such a busy intersection and wanted to some how changed the dynamic of it. Through our site visits, we found that many smokers frequent it but not a lot of people (regular students who are not smokers etc).
Step by step
In order to generate a working prototype we distilled the pure function of the intervention for the site, which was to engage with a community in a location that was in the same place but not for a long period of time. In order to create a greater awareness of others and start a larger, on going conversation, we decided on a simple voting box. This would allow anyone to visually engage with the object in the space, and would allow for smokers to physically engage with the object while in the space.
We started with the idea of having two choices, an A and a B, to answer the question "Who wore it better?" We decided on a simple comparison, which could be changed out when necessary, and for our prototype we decided on this comparison:
In order to start iterating for a working prototype, plywood was used. This material was the same thickness as the acrylic, which helped to test the slip joints that are quick and easy to put together, but not the strongest of joints, especially with acrylic.
We decided to use acrylic for the final iteration of this prototype in order to visually compare the votes being cast. The slip joints tested in the plywood model worked well but readily snapped off when a shear force was applied. In order to mitigate this damage, acrylic cement was used to bond the joints between each piece. Heat resistant spray paint was used to coat the inside of the box because acrylic is a thermoplastic material and it is possible to deform under heat.
A hashtag using stickers was added to introduce a way of keeping up with the project outside of the site. The vinyl cutter was used with a font that was noticeable. Metal rectangles were glued to the front of the box to encourage people to put out the cigarette before putting it in the box.
In order to hang to voting box on the way two arms were also laser cut to support the box as it hung from the wall. Once deployed, the box began collecting cigarette butts. We decided to leave it up for a few hours and came back to find that it had taken quite a beating.
The box, having been left alone on the wall had done its job but also had some major malfunctions that could be avoided in future iterations. The sign was taken, the box was hanging off its hinges, and there clearly had been a small fire in the left side of the box. Necessary design changes and improvements include a material change from something that will not catch on fire like glass and metal. More callout signage to announce the box to the space to create more interaction. A secure sign to enable more interaction and to allow for it to be replaced in the future. Different locations to see how different people react to the object. These are just a few noticeable changes that would benefit the project in future iterations.